Monday, June 18, 2018

Groups Such As ISIS Cannot Be Allowed To Exist, Defense Secretary Mattis Says


Terri Moon Cronk at the DoD News offers the below piece:

WASHINGTON, June 8, 2018 — While Iraq has liberated all of its territory once captured and held by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the U.S.-led military campaign against the rogue organization continues in Syria, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said at a meeting of the defeat-ISIS coalition at NATO headquarters in Brussels today.

Mattis attended a conference of the alliance’s defense ministers this week.

“A little over 100 hours ago, our [Syrian] partner forces began the first of several offensives to diminish ISIS’ physical caliphate,” the secretary said. “As operations ultimately draw to a close, we must avoid leaving a vacuum in Syria that can be exploited by the [Syrian President Bashar Assad] regime or its supporters.”

Despite the successes of the last year, the enduring defeat of ISIS is not over, Mattis said, noting that NATO approved a training mission yesterday and called it a step in the right direction. “We look forward to working with the new government of Iraq on this as we assist a key partner in denying our common terrorist enemy any chance to recover,” he said.

“Every battlefield is also a humanitarian field, even after the fighting stops. To ensure a lasting defeat and prevent an ISIS 2.0 requires all elements of our collective national power,” the secretary said. “Initiating and maintaining stabilization activities are essential, as citizens cannot return to normal life in communities cleared of explosives and debris, and those conditions that initially allowed ISIS to take root return.”

While coalition members have contributed generously, short-term shortfalls remain, and continued support on an urgent basis will augment local security in liberated areas, Mattis said.

Foreign-Fighter Detainees

“Each of us also has an urgent responsibility to address the foreign-fighter detainee problem,” he added. “We all must ensure captured terrorists remain off the battlefield and off our streets by taking custody of detainees from our countries or quickly coming up with suitable options.”

The United States faces the same problem and is working diligently to find a way to solve it, Mattis emphasized. “Abrogating this responsibility is not an option, as it plants the seeds for the next round of violence against innocents,” he said.

As the U.S.-led coalition has repeatedly demonstrated, its greatest weapon against the enemy and the coalition’s greatest strength remains unity, he said.

It is critical that the strong spirit of collaboration fostered by the 75-member coalition be preserved as the coalition transitions from combat to stabilization operations, so other locations do not suffer the consequences witnessed in Iraq, Syria, the Philippines and elsewhere, the secretary said.

Guiding Principles

In the guiding principles of the defeat-ISIS coalition, it is noted that “’ISIS remains a serious threat to the stability of the region and to our common security,’” Mattis said, noting that the guiding principles provide a vision for the coalition’s future and reinforce the whole-of-government approach. “Today, we plan to follow these guiding principles with a joint statement highlighting our commitment to coordinate efforts to confront ISIS globally,” he said.

While the coalition is nearing the defeat of ISIS’ so-called physical caliphate in Iraq and Syria, terrorist operations elsewhere have increased, Mattis said, adding he’s seeking insight to further discussions.

“The [United States] remains committed to the conditions-based approach, underpinned by our shared investment in shared security, and the approach is reinforced by, with and through assistance from local partners to help consolidate our hard-earned military gains,” the secretary said. “Groups like ISIS cannot be allowed to exist. Today’s meeting provides an opportunity to recommit ourselves to this mission.” 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Father's Day To My Late Father, Edward Miller Davis, WWII UDT Navy Veteran And Member Of The Greatest Generation


Happy Father’s Day to my late father, Edward Miller Davis (seen in the above photo).

My father was a lineman, electrician and a proud World War II Navy veteran.

He was a tough old Navy Chief who served as one of the first members of the Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) frogmen in WWII, the forerunners of today’s Navy SEALs. 

He fought in the Pacific battles on Tinian, Saipan and the Philippines and was wounded in action.

My father ran our house like a Navy command and he instilled in his children a sense of duty, honor and respect for the military and our country. I enlisted in the Navy at 17 in 1970 due to my father's influence and my life-long interest in the military stems directly from him.

Below is a photo of my father (in the center) with his team, UDT 5, as well as photo of him with my late mother, Claire Ann Wardino Davis. 



He died in 1976 at the age of 57. He is remembered and missed. 



I mentioned my late father in a piece on the WWII UDT frogmen in Counterterrorism magazine.

You can read the piece via the below link:



Saturday, June 16, 2018

"I'd Rather Wake Up Next To A Severed Horse's Head Than Ever Watch 'Gotti': Again: New York Post Pans John Travolta's Mob Movie


Johnny Oleksinski at the New York Post pans the John Travolta John Gotti.

I’d rather wake up next to a severed horse head than ever watch “Gotti” again.

The worst movie of the year so far, the long-awaited biopic about the Gambino crime boss’ rise from made man to top dog took four directors, 44 producers and eight years to make.

It shows. The finished product belongs in a cement bucket at the bottom of the river.

Keeping this mafioso mess alive throughout all the turmoil has been John Travolta, playing John Gotti. Travolta, who’s made a career out of Italian stereotypes, obviously thought the Dapper Don would be his Don Corleone. It’s his Chef Boy­ardee.

In one scene, he yells “whatsamattayou?!” and slaps one of his minions. In another, after John “Junior” Gotti starts a bar fight where a guy winds up dead, Travolta screams, “You c–ksucker! This is gonna ruin your life!” and again slaps him in the face.

His performance is a leather-faced freak show. And the plot is nonsensical.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:



Note: The HBO film Gotti with Armand Assante as John Gotti was a fairly good film. Armand Assante received an Emmy Award for best lead actor. 

... John Travolta defended "flattering" portrait of the man via the below link:

https://www.insideedition.com/john-travolta-defends-flattering-portrayal-john-gotti-new-biopic-44201 

Friday, June 15, 2018

Five Ways To Fight Elder Abuse, Neglect, And Financial Exploitation


Lance Robertson (seen in the above photo), the Assistant Secretary for Aging and Administrator, Administration for Community Living in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), offers the below information:

As Americans, we believe that people of all ages and abilities deserve to be treated fairly and equally and to live free from abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation. Tomorrow, on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we join the world in recognizing the importance of elders to our communities and standing up for their rights. Here are five ways you can join this fight.

1. Break Down Isolation

We cannot talk about elder abuse without talking about social isolation. Elders without strong social networks face a greater risk of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. It is up to all of us to ensure that our communities are supporting and engaging older adults. One simple way to do this is by staying in touch with the older adults in your community. So go ahead and knock on your neighbor’s door just to say “hi” or start an intergenerational book club or movie night. You can also support community efforts to empower elders and fight isolation; act by volunteering to deliver meals or serve as a long-term care ombudsman.

2. Learn to Spot “Red Flags”

There are a number of “red flags” that could suggest the presence of elder abuse. Examples include:

Isolation (especially by a caregiver);
Unpaid bills or utilities that have been turned off;
Unusual or quick changes in a will or other financial documents;
Missing medications; and
Bruises or welts (especially on the face).
Even if you are not certain abuse is taking place, you can report any suspicions of abuse so a professional can investigate.

3. Connect With Resources in Your Community

There are a variety of local resources in your community that help address elder abuse and social isolation. Adult Protective Services agencies investigate, and can respond to, suspected abuse. Long-Term Care Ombudsman programs advocate for residents of care facilities. Area Agency on Aging and Aging and Disability Resource Centers can offer meals, health and wellness programs, and caregiver support programs, and Older Americans Act Legal Services Providers can offer legal help. The Eldercare Locator (800-677-1116) can connect you to all of these programs.

4. Watch Out for Scams and Fraud

Whether it is a foreign prince or a mystery caller with an exclusive “investment opportunity,” scammers steal billions of dollars from seniors every year. Here are a few tips to help you protect yourself:

Sign up for the Do Not Call Registry online or call 888-382-1222 to reduce telemarketing calls.
If you suspect Social Security fraud, report it online or call 800-269-0271.
Never give your credit card, banking, Social Security, Medicare, or other personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call.
Check with a lawyer or trusted family member before signing any document you do not completely understand.

5. Talk About It

Many older adults who face abuse, neglect, or exploitation feel guilty or ashamed about their experience. One study found that for every reported case of elder abuse, 23 cases go unreported. We must become more comfortable talking about abuse in a way that makes clear that everyone, no matter what their age, is worthy of dignity and respect. Victims should never feel embarrassed or feel that they are responsible for the abuse they experienced.

The abuse, neglect, and exploitation of older adults goes against everything we stand for as a country. Tomorrow, as we recognize World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and throughout the year, let’s take a stand for justice. You can find more resources at the National Center on Elder Abuse, an Administration for Community Living resource center. 


Thursday, June 14, 2018

Flag Day: What Is It And Why Do We Celebrate It?


Zoe Szathmary at Foxnews.com explains Flag Day history and what Flag Day means.

You can watch a video clip and read the piece via the below link:


Note: Our family so loves the Flag and is so patriotic that our daughter Brittany was born on Flag Day. 

Robert De Niro's Anti-Trump Tonys Speech Slammed As 'Disgusting' By Actor, Writer Robert Davi


Foxnews.com offers the reaction of actor Robert Davi to actor Robert De Niro’s crude act towards President Trump at the Tonys Award show.

Robert Davi had a few choice words for fellow actor Robert De Niro after the "Raging Bull" star launched a profanity-laced tirade about President Trump during Sunday's politically charged Tony Awards.

An impassioned Davi told TMZ De Niro's profanity-laced speech was "disgusting."

"It was disgusting. He shouldn’t have done it. It’s art, art unites people, it doesn’t separate people," Davi told the gossip site. "No matter how you feel about a president … or a candidate … you know, this is still America, and we should at least have respect and a certain decorum."

In Sunday night's speech, De Niro as he clenched his two fists in the air, "I'm gonna say one thing: F--- Trump!" He left panic-stricken broadcast censors trying bleep out the remarks. "It's no longer down with Trump, it's f--- Trump!"

… "I didn’t agree with President Obama, but I respected him," the "Die Hard" actor explained. "I met him, we shook hands. All right? You don’t do that, you don’t … alienate people like that."

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2018/06/13/robert-de-niros-anti-trump-tonys-speech-slammed-as-disgusting-by-actor-robert-davi.html 

Note: Robert Davi is a good actor, a good writer and a good man.

I loved him as a Bond villain in Licence To Kill and as a mob guy in the TV series Wiseguy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Operation WireWire: International Business E-Mail Compromise Takedown


The FBI released the below information:

Federal authorities—including the Department of Justice and the FBI—announced a major coordinated law enforcement effort to disrupt international business e-mail compromise (BEC) schemes that are designed to intercept and hijack wire transfers from businesses and individuals.



Operation WireWire—which also included the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of the Treasury, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service—involved a six-month sweep that culminated in over two weeks of intensified law enforcement activity resulting in 74 arrests in the U.S. and overseas, including 42 in the U.S., 29 in Nigeria, and three in Canada, Mauritius, and Poland. The operation also resulted in the seizure of nearly $2.4 million and the disruption and recovery of approximately $14 million in fraudulent wire transfers.

A number of cases charged in this operation involved international criminal organizations that defrauded small- to large-sized businesses, while others involved individual victims who transferred high-dollar amounts or sensitive records in the course of business. The devastating impacts these cases have on victims and victim companies affect not only the individual business but also the global economy. Since the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) began formally keeping track of BEC and its variant, e-mail account compromise (EAC), there has been a loss of over $3.7 billion reported to the IC3.

BEC, also known as cyber-enabled financial fraud, is a sophisticated scam that often targets employees with access to company finances and trick them—using a variety of methods like social engineering and computer intrusions—into making wire transfers to bank accounts thought to belong to trusted partners but instead belong to accounts controlled by the criminals themselves. And these same criminal organizations that perpetrate BEC schemes also exploit individual victims—often real estate purchasers, the elderly, and others—by convincing them to make wire transfers to bank accounts controlled by the criminals.

Foreign citizens perpetrate many of these schemes, which originated in Nigeria but have spread throughout the world.

During Operation WireWire, U.S. law enforcement agents executed more than 51 domestic actions, including search warrants, asset seizure warrants, and money mule warning letters. And local and state law enforcement partners on FBI task forces across the country, with the assistance of multiple district attorney's offices, charged 15 alleged money mules for their roles in defrauding victims.

The role of money mules, witting or unwitting, in BEC schemes is very important—they are used to receive the stolen money and then transfer the funds as directed by the fraudsters. The mules usually keep a fraction of the money for their trouble.

Today’s announcement highlighting this recent surge in law enforcement resources targeting BEC schemes “demonstrates the FBI's commitment to disrupt and dismantle criminal enterprises that target American citizens and their businesses,” according to FBI Director Christopher Wray.

And he added, “We will continue to work together with our law enforcement partners around the world to end these fraud schemes and protect the hard-earned assets of our citizens. The public we serve deserves nothing less.”

Awareness of BEC Schemes Can Safeguard Your Business

BEC schemes continue to evolve as criminals come up with new and inventive ways to scam businesses.

Here are the most current and frequent BEC scenarios identified by the FBI:

Business Executive: Criminals spoof or compromise e-mail accounts of high-level business executives, including chief information officers and chief financial officers, which result in the processing of a wire transfer to a fraudulent account

Real Estate Transactions: Criminal impersonate sellers, realtors, title companies, or law firms during a real estate transaction to ask the home buyer for funds to be sent to a fraudulent account

Data and W-2 Theft: Criminals, using a compromised business executive’s e-mail account, send fraudulent requests for W-2 information or other personally identifiable information to an entity in an organization that routinely maintains that sort of information

Supply Chain: Criminals send fraudulent requests to redirect funds during a pending business deal, transaction, or invoice payment to an account controlled by a money mule or bad actor

Law Firms: Criminals find out about trust accounts or litigation and impersonate a law firm client to change the recipient bank information to a fraudulent account.

If you think you may have been victimized in a BEC scheme, please file a complaint with the IC3. The more information law enforcement has on these scams, the better equipped we’ll be to combat them.

And to further educate yourself on BEC schemes to help protect your business, read more about how BEC schemes work and how you can avoid being victimized. You can also take a look at this IC3 public service announcement on BEC schemes.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

On This Day In History President Ronald Reagan Challenged Gorbachev To 'Tear Down This Wall'


As History.com notes, on this day in 1987 President Reagan made history with his speech at the Berlin Wall.

On this day in 1987, in one of his most famous Cold War speeches, President Ronald Reagan challenges Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down” the Berlin Wall, a symbol of the repressive Communist era in a divided Germany.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/reagan-challenges-gorbachev?cmpid=email-hist-tdih-2018-0612-06122018&om_rid=de5e4076c942a595dbda53f758321d197499484f6d117f61b6ac5c08e0d6f0aa&om_mid=393158302&kx_EmailCampaignID=22042&kx_EmailCampaignName=email-hist-tdih-2018-0612-06122018&kx_EmailRecipientID=de5e4076c942a595dbda53f758321d197499484f6d117f61b6ac5c08e0d6f0aa


Mob Talk 19: Who's Who In The Philly Mob


Veteran organized crime reporters George Anastasia and Dave Schratwieser offer their take on who’s who in the Philadelphia Cosa Nostra organized crime family in Mob Talk 19.

You can watch the video via the below link:





Monday, June 11, 2018

Social Security Administration: Elder Abuse Detection And Prevention


Andrew Cannarsa, the Social Security Administration’s OIG communications director, offers the below piece:

The statistics about elder abuse tell a troubling story. About five million seniors suffer from some form of abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation each year, and older Americans lose more than $2.6 billion annually because of these crimes, according to the Administration for Community Living.

In an effort to increase awareness of these threats to seniors and to help people identify and prevent cases of elder abuse, the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse launched the first World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in 2006. In 2011, the United Nations officially designated June 15 for this important public awareness event.

To recognize World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will host a Facebook Live broadcast on Wednesday, June 13, at 7 p.m. ET to discuss the detection and prevention of elder abuse. Jennifer Walker of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at Social Security will discuss how the OIG detects and prevents cases of suspected elder abuse and financial exploitation, and she will explain how people can identify and report suspected elder abuse, as well as how people can protect themselves or seniors they know from mistreatment.

Raising awareness of elder abuse is very important to SSA and the OIG because many of SSA’s customers are seniors, and some of them depend on representative payees to receive and manage their Social Security benefits. The OIG investigates cases of representative payee fraud and misuse, which can deprive older Social Security beneficiaries of the funds and care that are essential to their welfare.

The OIG also tracks and alerts the public about various theft schemes, which often target seniors, aimed at stealing money or personal information from unknowing victims. The OIG maintains a Scam Awareness page on its website to educate the public on how to identify potential schemes and protect themselves from financial exploitation and identity theft. Jennifer Walker of the OIG will discuss all of this and more during the June 13 Facebook Live broadcast.

June is also World Elder Abuse Awareness Month. Throughout the month, government agencies, businesses, and organizations nationally sponsor events to unite communities, seniors, caregivers, governments, and the private sector to understand the importance of recognizing, understanding, and preventing mistreatment and violence against the elderly.

For more information on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, visit the National Center for Elder Abuse website. The Department of Justice also provides a wealth of information and resources online through its Elder Justice Initiative. If you suspect elder abuse, call 911 for an emergency. In a non-emergency situation, use the Eldercare Locator by calling 800-677-1116 to find your local reporting agency. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Eunice Gayson, First-Ever Bond Girl, Dead At 90


Foxnews.com reports that British actress Eunice Gayson, the first-ever ‘Bond Girl,” has died. She was 90.

The actress died on Friday, her team confirmed on her Twitter account early Saturday morning. She was 90. Gayson was best known as the first-ever Bond Girl in the 1962 James Bond film, "Dr. No," alongside Sean Connery. She is also the only Bond Girl to appear in two films in the franchise, as she starred in 1963's "From Russia With Love."

  In a scene at the Le Cercle Club, her character, Sylvia Trench, met Connery’s 007 over a game of cards. She proposed they raise the stakes, and Bond said, “I admire you’re courage, Miss er…?” to which she replied, “Trench. Sylvia Trench. I admire your luck Mr…?”

He replied: “Bond. James Bond.”

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:



You can also watch Eunice Gayson and Sean Connery in Dr No via the below link:



Saturday, June 9, 2018

Jury Convicts Former CIA Officer Of Espionage


The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:

Today, a federal jury convicted Kevin Patrick Mallory, 61, a former Central Intelligence Agency case officer of Leesburg, Virginia, on espionage charges related to his transmission of classified documents to an agent of the People’s Republic of China.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger for the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant Director in Charge Nancy McNamara of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III accepted the verdict.

“It is a sad day when an American citizen is convicted of spying on behalf of a foreign power,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.  “This act of espionage was no isolated incident.  The People's Republic of China has made a sophisticated and concerted effort to steal our nation's secrets.  Today's conviction demonstrates that we remain vigilant against this threat and hold accountable all those who put the United States at risk through espionage.”

“There are few crimes in this country more serious than espionage,” said U.S. Attorney Terwilliger.  “This office has a long history of holding those accountable who betray their country and try and profit off of classified information. This case should send a message to anyone considering violating the public’s trust and compromising our national security by disclosing classified information. We will remain steadfast and dogged in pursuit of these challenging but critical national security cases.”

“This trial highlights a serious threat to U.S. national security,” said Assistant Director in Charge McNamara.  “Foreign intelligence agents are targeting former U.S. Government security clearance holders in order to recruit them and steal our secrets. This case should send a message to foreign intelligence services and those caught up in their web: we are watching and we will investigate and prosecute those who willfully violate their obligations to protect national security secrets. I want to start by thanking the prosecutors of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the trial attorneys of the Justice Department and particularly the special agents, analysts and professional staff of the FBI’s Washington Field Office for their hard work.”

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, in March and April 2017, Mallory travelled to Shanghai and met with an individual, Michael Yang, whom he quickly concluded was working for the People’s Republic of China Intelligence Service (PRCIS).  During a voluntary interview with FBI agents on May 24, 2007, Mallory stated that Yang represented himself as working for a People’s Republic of China think tank, however Mallory stated that he assessed Yang to be a Chinese Intelligence Officer.

Mallory, a U.S. citizen who speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, told FBI agents he travelled to Shanghai in March and April to meet with Yang and Yang’s boss.  After Mallory consented to a review of a covert communications (covcom) device he had been given by Yang in order to communicate covertly with Yang, FBI agents viewed a message from Mallory to Yang in which Mallory stated that he could come in the middle of June and he could bring the remainder of the documents with him at that time.  Analysis of the device, which was a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, also revealed a handwritten index describing eight different documents later determined to be classified.  Four of the eight documents listed in the index were found stored on the device, with three being confirmed as containing classified information pertaining to the same U.S. government agency.  One of those documents was classified TOP SECRET, while the remaining two documents were classified SECRET.  FBI analysts were able to determine that Mallory had completed all of the steps necessary to securely transmit at least four documents via the covcom device, one of which contained unique identifiers for human sources who had helped the U.S. government.

Evidence presented at trial included surveillance video from a FedEx store in Leesburg where Mallory could be seen scanning the eight classified documents and a handwritten table of contents onto a micro SD card.  Though Mallory shredded the paper copies of the eight documents, an SD card containing those documents and table of contents was later found carefully concealed in his house when it was searched on June 22, 2017, the date of his arrest.  A recording was played at trial from June 24, 2017, where Mallory could be heard on a call from the jail calling his family to ask them to search for the SD card.

Mallory has held numerous positions with various government agencies and several defense contractors, including working as a covert case officer for the CIA and an intelligence officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency.  As required for his various government positions, Mallory obtained a Top Secret security clearance, which was active during various assignments during his career.  Mallory’s security clearance was terminated in October 2012 when he left government service.

Mallory was convicted of conspiracy to deliver, attempted delivery, delivery of defense information to aid a foreign government, and making material false statements.  He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison when sentenced on Sept. 21.  The statutory maximum penalty is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys John T. Gibbs and Colleen E. Garcia of the Eastern District of Virginia, and Trial Attorney Jennifer Kennedy Gellie of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case. 

Friday, June 8, 2018

Fox News Star Charles Krauthammer Reveals He Has Weeks To Live In Heartbreaking Letter


Charles Krauthammer is one my favorite political columnists. He is brilliant, clever and amusing. I’ve enjoy his newspaper columns as well as his appearances on Fox News’ evening news broadcast. 

Sadly, Greg Wilson at Foxnews.com reports that Krauthammer has announced that he only has weeks to live.

Charles Krauthammer, the beloved and brilliant Fox News Channel personality who gave up a pioneering career in psychiatry to become a Pulitzer Prize-winning political analyst, on Friday revealed the heartbreaking news that he is in the final stages of a losing battle with cancer.

The 68-year-old’s incisive takes on politics of the day have been missing from Fox News Channel’s “Special Report” for nearly a year as he battled an abdominal tumor and subsequent complications, but colleagues and viewers alike had held out hope that he would return to the evening show he helped establish as must-viewing. But in an eloquent, yet unblinking letter to co-workers, friends and Fox News Channel viewers, Krauthammer disclosed that he has just weeks to live.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:



Thursday, June 7, 2018

Howie Carr: One Last Close-Up For The 'Rifleman'


Howie Carr (seen in the below photo) in his Boston Herald column offers his take on convicted murderer Steve Flemmi (seen in the above photo), Whitey Bulger’s former partner-in-crime, as the elderly mobster testifies against New England Cosa Nostra boss, Frank "Cadillac" Salemme.

Mr. Flemmi, are you ready for your close-up?

You’d better be, Stevie, because there won’t be any retakes this time — this is the last waltz for you, as you take the witness stand this morning in the trial of your old pal Cadillac Frank Salemme.

After your star turn this week in Courtroom 17, it’s back to wherever the Bureau of Prisons cages its prized rats (unlike other inmates, they’re not even listed on the BOP website). You won’t be going anywhere for the rest of your natural life — which, given how long your parents lived, is probably at least another decade.

Do you think Stevie is feeling a pang or two of nostalgia this morning? I mean, he’s been informing on Salemme since 1965. That’s 53 years, 24 of which Flemmi has spent behind bars, compared to, by my calculations, approximately 25 for Salemme.

The moral of the story is, crime doesn’t pay, unless you’re a Clinton.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:


You can also read about Steve Flemmi and Whitey Bulger in my Q&A with Dick Lehr, the coauthor of Whitey: The Life of America's Most Notorious Mob Boss, via the below link:



Ernest Hemingway, Boxing, And “Fifty Grand”


I’ve been a Hemingway aficionado since I was a teenager back in the 1960s.

In my view, no writer covered war, crime, bullfighting and boxing in fiction better than Ernest Hemingway. I love his powerful short stories even better than his great novels. 

In his 1927 short story collection, Men Without Women, Hemingway offers a fine war story, Now I Lay Me. He also offers the classic crime story, The Killers.

And he offers a great short story about boxing, the sport called “the sweet science.” No writer ever wrote so realistically about boxing. Hemingway knew how to bob and weave and he knew how to throw and take a punch. The boxing story, 50 Grand, is one of the best stories ever written about the world of boxing. 


 Thomas Hauser at thesweetscience.com offers a piece on Hemingway, boxing and 50 Grand..

Ernest Hemingway referenced boxing from time to time in his writing. But one of his works was devoted entirely to the sweet science.

Hemingway’s great novels were far in the future when he wrote “50 Grand.” He was a 27-year-old journalist and short story writer. The Atlantic Monthly published the 8,000-word piece in 1927.

…The fight itself is dramatically told, as one would expect. After all, this is Ernest Hemingway.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:



You can also read my Washington Times review of Hemingway’s short stories via the below link:

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

D-Day Commemorations Highlight Battle’s Significance, Sacrifices


U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Joshua Joseph Magbanua from the 86th Airlift Wing offers the below piece:

CHERBOURG, France, June 6, 2018 — “Soldiers, sailors, and airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force: you are about to embark upon the great crusade, toward which we have striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.”

Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower (seen in the below photo), the supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe during World War II, spoke these words to his troops before the Battle of Normandy on June 6, 1944.


Eisenhower, knowing the operation would be costly, prepared his men to face an epic struggle.

“Your task will not be an easy one,” he said. “Your enemy is well trained, well equipped, and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.”

The battle, known as D-Day, was bloody. On the first day of the invasion alone, Allied casualties exceeded 10,000 troops.

However, the Allies managed to break through enemy defenses and establish critical beachheads. These achievements paved the way for the liberation of Europe -- and ultimately victory over the enemy.

Fast forward 74 years later: U.S. and allied troops landed upon Normandy again -- not to liberate the region from tyranny, but to honor those who did. Aircraft from the U.S. and other allied nations airdropped parachutists, both military and civilian, over the town of Sainte-Mere-Eglise to commemorate the Normandy campaign.

Many of the aircraft in the formation came from the 37th Airlift Squadron, based in Ramstein Air Base, Germany. The 37th is a descendant unit of the 37th Troop Carrier Squadron, which dropped paratroopers near Sainte-Mere-Eglise on D-Day.

D-Day Commemoration, Remembrance

“The significance of us being here is to remind the people of what was achieved here,” said Air Force Capt. Kyle Foley, a 37th Airlift Squadron C-130J instructor pilot who served as the mission commander for the Ramstein airmen.

“It’s been an amazing experience to see the French people still excited about D-Day and the liberation of France,” he said.

Foley emphasized the importance of memorializing D-Day, saying that the event will provide valuable lessons to current and future generations.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Richard G. Moore Jr., commander of the 86th Airlift Wing, which includes the 37th Airlift Squadron, conducted memorial flights across the Normandy region prior to the airdrops over Sainte-Mere-Eglise. He led formations over former battlefields such as Omaha Beach and Pointe du Hoc.

Moore declared that the legacy of D-Day lives on in the partnerships forged between the U.S. and its partners in Europe today. Europe lives peacefully because of the courageous sacrifice of those who descended upon Normandy more than seven decades ago, he said.

“U.S. forces continue to stand with our European allies and partners ensuring Europe is whole, free, prosperous and at peace,” Moore said. “As we reflect on this 74th anniversary of D-Day, please take a moment to consider the powerful stories of these heroes and their courage. Think about the reality of so many lives lost in defense of our nation and allies, and the special grace shown by the families left behind. Reflect upon the sacrifice of those who gave their lives to guarantee the freedoms we enjoy today.”

Visitors to Omaha Beach today might find the scene typical of a sunlit shore: children playing and flying kites, couples walking hand in hand along the sea and tourists scouring the sand for shells. It can be difficult to imagine that the beach was the site of one of the bloodiest days in history.

But if they look in the hills above, they would see the Normandy American Cemetery where more than 9,000 U.S. troops rest in peace. The endless rows of white stone crosses and Stars of David serve as sobering reminders of the epic battle which took place there.

Foley said the sacrifices of the Allies in the Battle of Normandy altered the course of history.

“This is something that changed the course of the world,” he said. “It changed the shape of Europe and our relationship with our allies across the world. It was a big deal in the 1940s; it’s a big deal now in 2018. And, it will still be a big deal 10 years from now.”

When Eisenhower concluded his D-Day speech, he envisioned an era where liberty would overthrow tyranny.

“The tide has turned,” Eisenhower said to his men. “The free men of the world are marching together to victory. I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty, and skill in battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory. Good luck! And let us all beseech the blessing of almighty God upon this great and noble undertaking.”

Note: In the top U.S. Air Force photo a U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft flies above the Normandy American Cemetery in France on June 3, 2018. The photo was taken by Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua.

Defense Department's Special Report On The 74th Commemoration Of D-Day


As the U.S. Defense Department notes, on June 6, 1944, nearly 160,000 Allied troops landed along a heavily fortified, 50-mile stretch of French coastline in the historic operation known as D-Day. Allied casualties were heavy - an estimated 10,000 killed, wounded and missing in action - but by day's end, the Allies had gained a foothold to begin liberating Europe.

You can visit the Defense Department’s special report on D-Day via the below link:

https://www.defense.gov/News/Special-Reports/0618_dday/?source=GovDelivery s

'Elmore Leonard: Westerns' Celebrates Leonard's Mastery Of The Genre


Eric Spanberg at the Christian Science Monitor offers a piece on a collection of Western stories from one of my favorite writers, the late, great writer Elmore Leonard.

In the guise of a man named Carl Everett Allen, who relates a harrowing tale of an attempted stagecoach robbery in Arizona in 1884, author Elmore Leonard offers his philosophy of writing – and reading. Allen, in a one-page prologue that introduces Leonard’s Western novel “Hombre,” confesses an amateur’s uncertainty about where to start his story.

Some of his thoughts at the time the events occurred, Allen tells us, embarrass him in retrospect.

“But I was advised to imagine I was telling it to a good friend and not worry about what other people might think,” Allen says by way of introduction. “Which is what I have done. If there’s anything anybody wants to skip, like innermost thoughts in places, just go ahead.”

Allen’s sentiment echoes Leonard’s beloved rules for writing, published by The New York Times in 2001 and, later, as a slim non-fiction volume. The final rule on Leonard’s list? “Try to leave out the part that readers skip.” His rules also warned against prologues, excessive weather descriptions, and adverbs, among other literary maladies.

Leonard’s ear for dialogue and laconic style, along with a droll sense of humor and just enough field research, combined to make his crime novels endlessly entertaining (apologies for the adverb). It took a while, but, by the mid-1980s, and through the end of his life in 2013, Leonard’s books became source material for a slew of movies and TV shows (John Travolta and Gene Hackman’s “Get Shorty” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown” among them) as well as consistent best-sellers.

Since his death, Leonard has been celebrated by The Library of America in three volumes encompassing 12 novels, all from his contemporary crime era. Now comes a fourth entry, Elmore Leonard: Westerns, harking back to where it all began. In Leonard’s writing life, the beginning is in Arizona in the late-1800s and early-1900s, the setting of his Western novels and stories, including several filmed for major Hollywood productions (Paul Newman starred in the movie version of “Hombre” in 1967) when Leonard remained a minor writer.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Dante And The Divine Comedy: He Took Us On A Tour Of Hell


Christian Blauvelt at BBC.com offers a piece on Dante’s The Divine Comedy.

“All hope abandon ye who enter here.”

That’s the inscription on the gate to Hell in one of the first English translations of The Divine Comedy, by Henry Francis Cary, in 1814. You probably know it as the less tongue-twisting “Abandon hope all ye who enter here,” which is the epigraph for Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho, hangs as a warning above the entrance to the Disney theme park ride Pirates of the Caribbean, appears in the videogame World of Warcraft, and has been repurposed as a lyric by The Gaslight Anthem.

You may have never read a single line of The Divine Comedy, and yet you’ve been influenced by it.

But it’s just one line of the 14,233 that make up The Divine Comedy, the three-part epic poem published in 1320 by Florentine bureaucrat turned visionary storyteller Dante Alighieri.

…The Divine Comedy inspired: a literary work endlessly adapted, pinched from, referenced and remixed, inspiring painters and sculptors for centuries. More than the authors of the Bible itself, Dante provided us with the vision of Hell that remains with us and has been painted by Botticelli and Blake, Delacroix and DalĂ­, turned into sculpture by Rodin – whose The Kiss depicts Dante’s damned lovers Paolo and Francesca – and illustrated in the pages of X-Men comics by John Romita. Jorge Luis Borges said The Divine Comedy is “the best book literature has ever achieved”, while TS Eliot summed up its influence thus: “Dante and Shakespeare divide the world between them. There is no third.” Perhaps the epigraph to The Divine Comedy itself should be “Gather inspiration all ye who enter here.”

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:

Monday, June 4, 2018

Former Defense Intelligence Officer Arrested For Attempted Espionage


The U.S. Justice Department released the below information:

Ron Rockwell Hansen, 58, a resident of Syracuse, Utah, and a former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) officer, was arrested Saturday afternoon on federal charges including the attempted transmission of national defense information to the People’s Republic of China.  The FBI agents took Hansen into custody while he was on his way to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle to board a connecting flight to China.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney John Huber for the District of Utah, and Special Agent in Charge Eric Barnhart of the FBI’s Salt Lake City Field Office announced the charges.

“Ron Rockwell Hansen is a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer who allegedly attempted to transmit national defense information to the People's Republic of China's intelligence service (PRCIS) and also allegedly received hundreds of thousands of dollars while illegally acting as an agent of China,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.  “His alleged actions are a betrayal of our nation's security and the American people and are an affront to his former intelligence community colleagues.  Our intelligence professionals swear an oath to protect our country’s most closely held secrets and the National Security Division will continue to relentlessly pursue justice against those who violate this oath.”

“These allegations are very troubling in their description of conduct that runs contrary to how we identify ourselves as Americans,” said U.S. Attorney Huber.  “On the other hand, revealed details of this lengthy investigation reflect effective performance and dedication on the part of the men and women of the FBI and their partners.”

“The allegations in this complaint are grave as it appears Mr. Hansen engaged in behavior that betrayed his oath and his country,” said Special Agent in Charge Barnhart.  “This case drives home the troubling reality of insider threats and that current and former clearance holders will be targeted by our adversaries.  The FBI will aggressively investigate individuals who put our national security at risk.”

Hansen will have an initial appearance Monday, at 5 p.m. EDT in U.S. District Court in Seattle.  He is charged in a 15-count complaint, signed by Chief Federal Magistrate Judge Paul M. Warner in Utah Saturday, with attempting to gather or deliver national defense information to aid a foreign government.  The complaint also charges Hansen with acting as an unregistered foreign agent for China, bulk cash smuggling, structuring monetary transactions and smuggling goods from the United States.  

According to court documents:

Hansen retired from the U.S. Army as a Warrant Officer with a background in signals intelligence and human intelligence.  He speaks fluent Mandarin-Chinese and Russian.  DIA hired Hansen as a civilian intelligence case officer in 2006.  Hansen held a Top Secret clearance for many years, and signed several non-disclosure agreements during his tenure at DIA and as a government contractor.

Between 2013 and 2017, Hansen regularly traveled between the United States and China, attending military and intelligence conferences in the U.S. and provided the information he learned at the conferences to contacts in China associated with the PRCIS.  Hansen received payments for this information by a variety of methods, including cash, wires and credit card transactions.  He also improperly sold export-controlled technology to persons in China.  From May of 2013 to the date of the complaint, Hansen received not less than $800,000 in funds originating from China.

In addition, Hansen repeatedly attempted to regain access to classified information after he stopped working on behalf of the U.S. Government.  Hansen’s alerting behavior ultimately resulted in the participation of a law enforcement source from whom Hansen solicited classified information.  Hansen disclosed to the source his ongoing contact with the PRCIS, including in-person meetings with intelligence officers during his trips to China.  Hansen told the source the types of information his contacts in China were interested in and discussed working with the source to provide such information to the PRCIS.  Hansen suggested he and the source would be handsomely paid.    

Complaints are not findings of guilt.  An individual charged in a complaint is presumed innocent unless or until convicted of the crimes in court. Hansen faces a maximum penalty of life in prison, if convicted of attempted espionage.  The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the assigned judge.

Special agents of the FBI, IRS, U.S Department of Commerce, the Department of Defense, U.S. Army Counterintelligence, and the Defense Intelligence Agency are involved in the investigation.  U.S. Army Counterintelligence, the FBI Seattle Division, the IRS, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the Weber County Sheriff’s Office assisted in law enforcement operations Saturday in Utah and Seattle.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert A. Lund, Mark K. Vincent and Karin Fojtik of the District of Utah, and Trial Attorneys Patrick T. Murphy and Adam L. Small of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case.  Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington assisted with this case.

Costs Of Snowden Leak Still Mounting 5 Years Later


Deb Riechmann at apnews.com offers a piece on the continuing damage of the Edward Snowden leaks of classified information.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Whistleblower or traitor, leaker or public hero?

National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden blew the lid off U.S. government surveillance methods five years ago, but intelligence chiefs complain that revelations from the trove of classified documents he disclosed are still trickling out.

That includes recent reporting on a mass surveillance program run by close U.S. ally Japan and on how the NSA targeted bitcoin users to gather intelligence to support counterterrorism and to combat narcotics and money laundering. The Intercept, an investigative publication with access to Snowden documents, published stories on both subjects.
  
The top U.S. counterintelligence official said journalists have released only about 1 percent taken by the 34-year-old American, now living in exile in Russia, “so we don’t see this issue ending anytime soon.”

“This past year, we had more international, Snowden-related documents and breaches than ever,” Bill Evanina, who directs the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said at a recent conference. “Since 2013, when Snowden left, there have been thousands of articles around the world with really sensitive stuff that’s been leaked.”

On June 5, 2013, The Guardian in Britain published the first story based on Snowden’s disclosures. It revealed that a secret court order was allowing the U.S. government to get Verizon to share the phone records of millions of Americans. Later stories, including those in The Washington Post, disclosed other snooping and how U.S. and British spy agencies had accessed information from cables carrying the world’s telephone and internet traffic.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:



You can also read my Washington Times piece on Snowden - traitor, thief, scoundrel, spy- via the below link: